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Learning Kautaliya's trade:
UP municipal elections and Muslims
By Syed Ubaidur Rahman

Imran Masood of Lok Dal lost mayoral election from Saharanpur by merely eight thousand votes. In the same constituency Abdul Ahad of BSP got 27384 votes and stood third. A Muslim League candidate got around seven thousand votes. The result: BJP candidate won the election. In Moradabad too, a predominantly Muslim town, a BJP candidate won due to the division of Muslim votes between innumerable candidates that every party had fielded to attract Muslims. The same happened when Shafiqur Rahman Barq, a sitting MP from the same constituency, lost the last parliamentary election by a considerable margin due to numerous Muslim candidates. In this instance too a BJP supported candidate won the parliamentary seat!

These are not random cases. Such examples are scattered not in Uttar Pradesh alone, but in every part of the country. The scene is more eloquent in Uttar Pradesh where Muslims are in sizeable numbers in many urban and semi-urban centres. Economically too they are comparably in a better off condition. 

Though Muslims have improved their record considerably in this year's municipal and corporation elections, the scene would have been considerably different had they done it with more precision and better planning. Muslims in two municipal corporations, namely Saharanpur and Moradabad, lost the mayors' post with a slim margin. Out of the eleven corporations where elections for mayoral posts were held Muslim candidates could win only a single seat. A Muslim candidate won from Meerut on BSP ticket. But Muslims have certainly done better this time round than earlier occasions.

They have won the chairmanship of a number of municipal boards and nagar palika parishads. They have also improved in a number of corporations when it comes to corporator seats. 

In Bareilly municipal corporation which has 60 seats, 26 Muslim candidates have made it to the corporation, winning in 26 wards. They have improved over their previous tally in the Bareilly Corporation. There were 18 Muslim corporators in the previous term. As a whole in Bareilly district there are 19 nagar palika parishads and panchayats. Out of these 16 Muslim candidates have won the chairmanship in 16 nagar palika parishads and panchayats. In Allahabad Corporation too they have improved over their previous record. In Kanpur Municipal Corporation they have also considerably improved.

Muslims in Bulandshahar have made a sort of history by winning the chairman's post of nagar palika parishad. Mujahid Ansari won this seat defeating the Rashtriya Karanti Party. It is the first time that a Muslim candidate has won this seat after Independence. In Khurja Municipal Board too a Muslim candidate, Razia Saleem Khan, has won the chairman's seat. She was the first Muslim to be elected to the post in the last election. She retained this seat this time round as well by defeating the BJP candidate. In Khurja Muslims are only 30 percent of the city's population. With another formidable Muslim candidate in the fray, Razia attracted a large number of non-Muslim votes too.

Another feature of these elections is the victory of Muslim women candidates in a number of seats. It is a welcome development. Razia Saleem Khan of Khurja is not the lone Muslim winner. Reshma Afroz, the sitting chairman of Rampur municipal board, won the seat again trouncing her opponent by a heavy margin. Naseebun Nisa won from Nanpara Nagar Palika Parishad. In Nagina it is Tahira Begum who has been elected chairman. Shakeela Begum has won Muhammadi Nagar Palika Parishad. Atia Bano has been elected chairman from Fareedpur. A number of other Muslim women candidates have won from several other municipal boards. Their representation has also increased in corporations and municipal boards.

It is a welcome change. It is great to see Muslims using their head in matters that needed their attention for long. Every party has been using them. It is time they recognize their strength and also the clout of their potential political power.

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